Though still only 28, Peter Pichler's CV charts his progress through some of Europe's most high-profile practices, including Zaha Hadid and Delugan Meissl and the Italian's portfolio is filled with ambitious schemes, ranging from a new country house for the photographer Cellina von Mannstein to a car showroom in Bolzano.
For this casa in a small fishing village in Puglia, his brief was to turn a 14th-century fortified farmhouse into a contemporary retreat. Pichler retained the broad interior arches that are set into the hefty sandstone walls. 'The idea was to expand those arches in the exterior façade to provide light and direct access from each room towards the exterior,' he says.
The patterned aluminium panels on the façade were etched using a precise water-cutting process. 'It evokes a new interpretation of the classic Arabic "linear" pattern', says Pichler, explaining how the sunlight and artificial light from within causes the structure to cast dramatic shadows, inside and out.
This Lake Garda hotel has been run by the same family since 1949, when Elda, the grandmother of current owner Andrea Pregl, decided to open her house to guests. Of course, a few things have changed since grandma Elda. In 2007, Pregl, a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, invited his friend, the architect Lara Zoccatelli, to help rebuild the place in an eco-friendly fashion. He also commissioned interior designer Simona Rampoldi to create interiors that would be in harmony with the hotel’s new architecture. The result is a design-savvy hotel that also boasts low energy consumption and two garden pools that collect rain water, which is then used for gardening, washing machines, and other hotel maintenance requirements. As of next year, Hotel Elda’s electric power will be provided by photovoltaic panels and water heated by solar panels.
Via Tre Giugno 3, Lenzumo di Concei, www.hotelelda.com
Opened in December 2009 by Margareth and Pio Canins, the Lagació Mountain Residence is situated in the picturesque ski resort of Alta Badia in the Dolomites. The eco-friendly hotel and spa (certified by the CasaClima agency) was built using local wood and slate, while its low-energy consumption is achieved through thermal insulation, compact design and an intelligent programme which monitors the residence’s standard energy requirements. The 24 one- and two-bedroom suites come with their own kitchen; guests can pre-order a shopping basket crammed with regional specialities and organic fruit and vegetables. Micurá de Rü 48, San Cassiano, Alta Badia, www.lagacio.com
Work on the semi-subterranean Bella Vista Hotel began in 2009 and is expected to be completed by 2011. Designed by Milan-based architect Matteo Thun, the hotel is designed to blend into its environment: its 11 separate structures, constructed using natural materials found in the surrounding area, are literally built into the mountain slope beneath the steep Stelvio Pass. Bella Vista was conceived to live up to KlimaHotel’s (the first international seal of certification for eco-friendly hotels) three tenets: ecology, economy and socio-cultural consideration, so that the visitor is guaranteed eco-transparency. www.matteothun.com
Located between Verona and Lake Garda, Mod 05 boasts a striking façade of large shutters made of phenolic panels cut and painted to look like oak and chestnut wood. Used to screen out the direct sun during the warm months, the shutters can also be left wide open to reveal the guestrooms’ private balconies. Rooftop solar panels cover most of the building’s heating, hot water and electricity requirements, including the hotel’s light installations designed by Mario Nanni. Inside, the spacious public areas are furnished with pieces by Patricia Urquiola, Andrés Bluth and Lievore Altherr Molina, while the 36 rooms showcase colourful artworks by young contemporary artists.
Via Modigliani 5, Sandrà di Castelnuovo del Garda, www.modfive.it
South of Naples, in the Italian district of Salerno, comes a supermarket that finally lives up to its superlative name. Designed by Milan-based CB’a Design Solutions, Idea Natura opened in January 2010 and offers a direct point of sale for the region’s small, independent producers of fruits and vegetables, local meats, cheeses and wines. Think of it as a farmer’s market with regular hours, a roof and great looking stall furniture in marbled walnut. Most of the products are organic and all, from the mozzarella di bufala campana to the local carciofi di Paestum artichokes, come directly to the sleekly designed space fresh off the trucks from local producers. Best of all, with no middle man, the consumers pay less than regular supermarket prices and the farmers earn more. Now that’s what we call super. Piana del Sele, www.ideanatura.com
Nestled in Rome’s former Palace of Modern Art, White Gallery is a giant concept store that sees contemporary art exhibitions, fashion, food and fragrance co-mingle across 5000 sq m of curved wall space. Under a wavy Murano glass chandelier designed by Karim Rashid swims a sea of fashion and accessories that covers everything from Balmain and Givenchy to Loro Piana and Brooks Brothers. For classicists, an in-house Napolitan tailor offers the made-to-measure tailoring with which the Romans are currently obsessed. Once you’ve indulged in the well-stocked fragrance bar, head upstairs to the real bar and enjoy a civilized lunch out on the terrace.
Piazza Marconi, 18/19 Rome, www.whitegallery.it
Milan’s newest concept store is loaded with pleasant surprises. Co-owners Nicola Mazzetti and Cristian Croce founded the store on the site of a former vintage record shop, their former place of employment. They kept the vinyls and the DJ booth, and added in their own mix of vintage design objects, quirky clothing and accessories by up-and-coming fashion designers. Neither slick nor overly-designed, Serendeepity reflects the raw authenticity of its Porta di Ticinese setting. The boys host ‘meet the artist’ evenings of their favourite musicians passing through town and frequently order aperitivo fare from the bar next door for their guests and shoppers. ‘We don’t have a real bar yet,’ says Croce, ‘but we’re planning on it.
Corso di Porta Ticinese, 100, Milan, www.serendeepity.net
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Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.
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